Gorham brought his American edge to the
band while Robertson drew from British blues.
Fused with lead singer/bassist Phil Lynott’s hypnotizing bass lines, everyman lyrics and distinctive vocals, the Dublin band had a groove and a
sonic identity like none other. Gorham still tours
with the band, sharing guitar duties with vocalist John Sykes. The band is also releasing a new
live recording from 1977 that surfaced recently.
It captures the band in Philadelphia, testing out
songs from the Bad Reputation album, which
had just been recorded.
That band secured little pub gigs all around
the London area. I would let a lot of musicians come on up and have a jam with us.
One of the guys that used to come up
all the time was an Irish guy named Ruan
O’Lochlainn. One day he said, “I got this
thing for you. There’s this Irish band called
Thin Lizzy.” And I thought Jesus, Thin Lizzy?
What a fucked up name. These guys are
never going make it with a name like that. He
says “Yeah, they’re looking for another guitar
player. Do you want me to put your name
forward?” I said “Yeah, what the hell.” I had
30 more days to go on my visa.
know. After the rehearsal, they went back and
listened to the tape, and said, “Yeah man,
that’s the guy.” Phil [Lynott] himself called me
up that night and asked if I’d join the band.
Which UK bands and guitarists you
were drawn to?
We caught up with Gorham to talk about the
NOS live release, how he got that famous
tone back then and today (with different
equipment) and his recollection of a guitar
nightmare during his Thin Lizzy audition.
Was there an audition?
How did a guy originally from California,
with a father in Iowa, land a gig with Thin
Lizzy in the seventies?
They had gone through like 25 different guitar
players looking for the right guy. I guess they
were recording the session, which I didn’t
At that point, Ritchie Blackmore had a completely unique sound. The notes he was choosing … he had a really great, unique vibrato.
It was the same with Paul Kossoff and Free.
When you listen to his vibrato and tone, it’s
like, Whoa. They’re just coming up with some
killer stuff. Although Hendrix was American,
he was deemed a British band. Here was this
guy who was doing things with a guitar that
nobody thought you could do. He used a lot
of different pedals while a lot of the other
guys just plugged straight into the amp
I guess it was my love for English rock.
When I was a kid growing up, that’s all I
listened to. At that time, I didn’t really go
for the American side of rock. I was always
intrigued with the British sound and the
British musicians. The thing that got me was
just how much talent was coming from this
tiny island. It created its own sound and just
swept the world. It didn’t just stop with a
few bands; I mean they just kept coming
and coming … absolutely god-like bands
were coming out of this tiny place.
I always had this dream of going over to
England and seeing what it was like and experiencing its legacy. My brother-in-law, Bob
Siebenberg, actually made the move first. He
took the plunge to London and eventually landed himself a job with the group Supertramp as
their drummer, who at this point hadn’t done
a whole lot. I worked up enough money for
a plane ticket and went over, only to find out
Roger Hodgson, who was their guitarist/key-board player, was going to play both. And that
was kind of the end of that.
That was kind of a good thing; it gave me a
kick in the ass. Here I was sitting in a foreign
country, no money, didn’t know anybody, and
it kind of forced me out of my little shell. It
got me to go into different clubs or pubs,
meeting different musicians—take this guy
from this band and steal this guy and start my
own band. And that’s what I did.
Scott rocking one of his custom Charlie Chandler Strats in Balingen, Germany during a 2003 festival gig. Photo by Frank White Photography